2nd National Peace Convention Held in Nagaland, India
Morung Express News, Dimapur, Nagaland, India | January 31, 2016
Peace is not just an idea but comes with people becoming different. Which is why peace, like war, is waged. Putting these thoughts into perspective were Naga peace stalwarts, Niketu Iralu and Dr. Wati Aier, speaking alongside US-based Dr. Paul Bueno De Mesquita, on Sunday, at the 2nd National Peace Convention underway at Hotel Acacia here from January 30-February 1. The Convention has been organised by the National Peace Movement in collaboration with Rotary International Dist. 3040 & 3240, NEISSR, Peace Channel, Universal Solidarity Movement and other NGOs.
“In the north-east, our struggle is for a wider common stability which will enable us to understand one another and move forward together,” said Peace Activist Niketu Iralu speaking on ‘Peace and Conflict resolution in the context of North East India’ during the first session of the second day of the Convention.
“Our history deserves to be respected—to stand by our rights does not mean that we are against India,” he re-iterated of the Naga struggle, highlighting the values of an “honourable solution” which will allow for India and the Nagas to be “honourable neighbours.”
In that, Iralu called for the “perception gap” of understanding the roots of conflict in the region to be bridged in order for problems to be resolved in a holistic manner. Both the Naga people and the Indian people will need to work hard to bridge this gap, but once done, will lead to peace. “Peace is not just an idea but it is people becoming different,” he noted.
Contributing to the discourse, MK Gandhi’s great grandson, Tushar Gandhi, asked the audience to refrain from applying terms like “rebels” and “insurgents” to the Nagas as it creates trust deficit. Asking people to be “more sensitive” towards the Naga struggle, he noted that this will create the space for reconciliation between the Indian and Naga people.
Calling for the “rejection of violence,” Niketu Iralu asserted that any political solution arrived at between India and Naga national groups should be implemented “together, with non violence.” If the Government of India can implement such a peace pact with non violence, along with all sections of society, it would be a great gesture towards peace.
This would be a gargantuan task, but “peace, like war, is waged,” said Convenor of the Forum for Naga Reconciliation, Dr. Wati Aier, speaking as the Chair for the session. Today, as people are increasingly divided on the lines of race, tribe or ethnic identity, it is pertinent to device “unconventional methods” of bringing peace as conventional ways have become obsolete.
“The boundaries that make identities should be permeable. They should not result in war but in working with each other,” he maintained of the FNR position on the matter.
For Dr. Paul Bueno de Mesquita from the Center of Nonviolence & Peace Studies at the University of Rhode Island, USA, such messages of peace and nonviolence are “critically important for the development of inclusive communities that entail liberty and justice for all.”
While in the US, “our culture has been seduced by violence,” there has been a decline in violence on a global level, he informed, as “new ways of unarmed struggle to achieve justice have emerged.” He was speaking on ‘Peace Building from an International Perspective.’
Highlighting Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s work on nonviolence and peace, Dr. Bueno de Mesquita listed out the six principles that can be applied to “institutionalise and internationalise” nonviolence. These include courage, targeting systemic forms of violence, strategising nonviolence by focussing on goals, justice, reconciliation etc.
Speaking on the topic, ‘Human Development and Promotion of Peace’, PV Rajgopal, a social activist and Gandhian, spoke on the need of getting young people involved in action towards peace building. He stressed that a Convention of this kind should motivate individuals for a better change.
It is ironic, he said, that a nation which considers Mahatma Gandhi as the Father of the Nation has been celebrating his memories while the nation is filled with poverty, degenerated by poverty, discrimination, injustice and exploitations.
Also speaking during this session, Anuradha Shankar IPS, ADGP Railways (MP) stressed on the difference between duties and responsibilities. She noted that duty is assigned while responsibilities are taken up by the individual of his or her own accord, while speaking in the context of rights in nation states.
Dr. Jill Carr-Harris, a social activist in Asia and Africa, talked on ‘Economic Empowerment & Justice to the Marginalized’ and former pro-vice chancellor, Nagaland University, Prof. A Lanunungsang Ao, discoursed on ‘Relevance of Mahatma Gandhi in the Socio-Political Scenario of India.’
Dr. Jill narrated the role played by rural Indian women at the grassroots level and how their fight to protect forests, their source of livelihood, from exploitation by the government caught national attention. She also said that struggle and dialogue are the basis of a nonviolent movement.
On peace, Dr. Jill said Mahatma Gandhi saw peace as an everyday reality and not a future possibility. Prof. Lanunungsang said everybody talks about Gandhi and his nonviolent principles but few actually practice it. Likewise, even though many Nagas profess themselves as Christians, a majority of them do not practice Christian principles and morality.
He said the real threat to India is not external but internal, exhibited in the form of religious divide and intolerance, and stressed on Gandhian principles of selflessness, non-attachment and “non-greediness” for peaceful and harmonious living.
Writer and social activist, Khekiye K. Sema, who chaired the third session, highlighted to delegates from mainland India the genesis of the Naga movement and how in the protracted struggle, Nagas witnessed untold suffering and violence. “You can hope for peace but also be forced into violence,” he said. Iterating the justness of the Naga political movement, Sema said that India too has learned a lesson from the Naga struggle – that violence is not the answer.